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Staats leaves South to head band program at Ripley High

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg South High School band director Eric Staats has accepted a position at Ripley High School.

Staats started at Ripley High last week and the Wood County Board of Education this evening is expected to formally accept Staats’ resignation from Parkersburg South. The resignation is retroactively effective July 8.

Staats, who has led the South band program for nine years and worked for Wood County Schools for 20 years, said the change is so he can spend more time with his wife and children, all of whom live in Roane County.

“I’ve been commuting an hour one way for seven years and working at South,” he said. “This opportunity came up and it is literally 25 minutes from my house. My wife and I adopted three children three years ago, and I just felt I was missing a lot of their time growing up.”

Staats said he is sad to leave South, which has been a labor of love for many years.

“I’ve loved it,” he said. “I love my kids, the boosters are great, the band has been absolutely terrific.”

Staats said last week he met with band members to say he would not be there this fall.

“I went in and saw the kids, announced I would be leaving the next day,” he said. “It was one of the roughest days of my career.”

Staats leaves behind a multi-layered and successful band program.

“The jazz program has really come a long way. The marching program has been a real force,” he said. “The concert bands have been so much fun to stand in front of and make music with those kids.”

Under Staats’ direction, South’s bands have won numerous awards and have performed in parades at Walt Disney World in Florida, played jazz at the Lincoln Center in New York City, and saw a live performance of the Chicago Symphony.

“Some of the biggest highlights have been some of the traveling we’ve been able to do and some of the places we’ve been able to perform,” he said. “We’ve had so many opportunities to expose students to all of this culture, to see what is out there. It has meant a lot to me to see them enjoy those experiences.”

Staats himself has received numerous recognitions and accolades over the years. He was named one of the 50 Band Directors That Make A Difference by School Band & Orchestra Magazine, and most recently received the National Federation of High School Section 2 Outstanding Music Educator Award.

“I was really honored to have been nominated for that,” he said. “To actually receive the award was wonderful.”

Staats said he has high hopes this fall for Ripley’s band program

“The program that I’m inheriting is very similar” to the one at South, he said. “The Ripley community is very supportive. Everyone has really welcomed me into Jackson County with open arms.

“I feel very blessed to have this opportunity to be close to my family.”

Parkersburg South has begun the search for a new band director, and Principal Betsy Patterson said while students, staff and parents are sad to see him go, everyone understands and supports Staats’ decision.

“Mr. Staats has done a fine job as a music instructor at Parkersburg South High School. His knowledge in the field will be missed,” she said. “I understand he will have less of a commute from home to Ripley. Everyone at South wishes him continued success in his new position.”

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